It is important to understand how an elder law estate plan can protect you in the event of a disability or eventual passing. While it can be a difficult subject to broach, planning ahead can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will be taken care of.
Before doing anything formally - the most important thing you must consider is your family dynamics. You need to honestly assess your family's interpersonal relations with each other and social aspects. Who will help you? Who do you want to leave assets to? How is it best to avoid jealously and in-fighting between your loved ones.?
Gather your thoughts and then consider these 10 steps to setting up an elder law estate plan.
Create a list of assets: Begin by creating a comprehensive list of all of your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and any other valuables you may own. This will help you understand your net worth and provide a starting point for your estate plan.
Choose a power of attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. Choose someone who is trustworthy and reliable to act as your power of attorney.
Draft a will: A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your passing. It's important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your will is legally binding and reflects your wishes.
Establish a trust: A trust is a legal entity that holds your assets and distributes them according to your wishes. Establishing a trust can help you avoid probate, minimize taxes, and provide for your loved ones.
Consider long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of care in the event that you become disabled and need long-term care. Work with an experienced insurance professional to find the right policy for your needs.
Plan for Medicaid: Medicaid is a government program that provides health care coverage for those with limited income and resources. Planning for Medicaid can help you avoid spending down your assets to qualify for coverage.
Name beneficiaries: Name beneficiaries for your assets, including life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and any other assets that allow for beneficiary designation.
Create a living will: A living will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for end-of-life medical care. It can be difficult to think about these decisions, but creating a living will can ensure that your wishes are respected.
Review and update regularly: Your estate plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it still reflects your wishes and takes into account any changes in your life or financial situation.
Work with an experienced elder law attorney and/or Fee-Only Financial Adviser: Finally, work with an experienced elder law attorney and/or Fee-Only Financial Adviser who can help guide you through the estate planning process and ensure that your wishes are carried out. Both can also help you navigate complex legal issues, such as Medicaid planning and estate tax planning.
Setting up an elder law estate plan is an important step in protecting yourself and your loved ones in the event of disability or eventual passing. By following these 10 steps and working with experienced professionals, you can ensure that your wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of.
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